Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is exactly as it sounds. The game is basically an HD (High Definition) version of the classic series that many of us gamers grew up playing. While it is definitely not a direct port of the original it is more of a mash-up of the first, and second game in the series. From the start menu forward you’ll notice a complete overhaul of the various modes, and features that the game has to offer. It’s nothing like what I recall Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 being like. With that being said a lot of the old modes are still intact including the famous “career” mode which has the player completing various objectives in order to score cash for the customization options, stat upgrades, and extra boards. Aside from that you’ll find an entirely new Xbox LIVE mode where you can play with friends, or random people in four player lobbies. In that respect there’s something new for everyone.
When it comes to staying true to the “old” Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD tries it’s hardest to deliver such an experience. As you play through the single player modes (Free Skate, Single Session, Career) you’ll play in very familiar territory. The levels (Warehouse, School II, The Hangar …) are available, and the unlock-able levels are true HD upgrades of the original designs. Nothing was short changed, and the only true difference comes with the change of a certain career goal. Back in the day when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was hot dvds had yet to be invented, so you would have to collect VHS tapes. Activision/Robomodo fixed this technological feature by turning it into a “Find The Hidden DVD” goal. Other than that you’ll still be spelling S-K-A-T-E, and collecting level specific items in order to score customization cash. You’ll even be shooting for the demanded high scores (High Score, Pro Score, Sick Score) within each level in order to further unlock the game’s various features.
The word “new” is something that will likely frighten off dedicated Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater fans, and sadly there is a lot of “new” within this revised edition. As I mentioned previously the menu system has endured a complete overhaul. For the most part the old features are still intact, but things like the available skaters, and available boards have been changed. My memory may be a little fuzzy on the matter though as I only recognized a few of the available skaters. The selection of unlock able boards also seems to have been shortened. The game definitely doesn’t feature the interesting board designs that I remember from the older games. With that being said though you won’t see much of the skateboard as you play the game. Another new feature, which isn’t all that bad is the “Avatar Skater” option that allows the gamer to play as their own Xbox LIVE avatar. It was fun to be able to play as the digital representation of myself, so I can’t complain there.
Aside from those features you’ll encounter even more “new” things as you venture online for some competitive/friendly gameplay. There is no doubt that the Xbox LIVE mode is new to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. When the original games were released online wasn’t even a thing, so it’s pretty neat that Activision/Robomodo decided to include such a feature in this game. In “Xbox LIVE” you will find a handful of available modes including “Graffiti”, “Trick Attack”, “Free Skate”, and “Big Head Elimination”. All of these modes can be played via the “Quick Match”, “Join Match”, or “Create Match” options. If you are familiar with online gaming then you’ll understand exactly what the functions of these lobby setups are.
Game modes such as “Graffiti”, Trick Attack”, and “Big Head Elimination” are entirely competitive modes. In “Graffiti” 2 – 4 players will compete head-to-head by scoring on the various gaps, ramps, and rails. The player who scores the highest on each interactive obstacle will paint the object the color associated with their character. By painting/tagging objects the player will earn points accordingly. In the end the winner is the one who maintains the most tags/painted areas. In “Trick Attack” things are different, and high scoring is the key to victory. You will need to score the most points by doing tricks, grinds, flips, and specials. Like “Graffiti” this mode can also be played with up to four players making it a highly competitive game mode. The final, and newest game mode is “Big Head Elimination”. In this mode you basically try to outlast your opponents by performing tricks. If you bail, or stop doing tricks your head (balloon if using avatar skater) will grow larger in size. If for some reason you are unable to perform tricks, or if you fall off your board enough times you’re head/balloon will eventually explode in a burst of confetti. The last man standing is the winner in this particular game type.
The last available mode of online gameplay is “Free Skate” in this mode no score is kept, and the gameplay is friendly. This mode is excellent for getting online with friends, and chatting while improving your skateboarding skills. You could also use this mode to give friends pointers, or get pointers from said friends. I tested this mode out with a couple of friends, and definitely had a good time doing it. In an odd sort of way it was like being at an actual skate park with my friends.
When it’s all said, and done Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD fails in it’s attempt at true nostalgia, but succeeds in breathing life back into the roots of the series. If you’re looking for the same game that you played way back in the day you will not find it here. What you will find is a challenging skateboarding game that will put your gaming skills to the ultimate test. Whether you wish to take on single player, or enjoy some online matches with your friends there’s pretty much something here for fans, and newcomers alike. As far as the online experience goes it was quite frustrating for me. I ran into some questionable glitches/hacks, and even some gamers who had ridiculous scores (Activision is currently looking into the matter). Even the single player aggravated me with certain goals being hard to achieve. With that being said the game still wasn’t all that bad. I know you’re curious as to if I think the game is worth the 1200 msp, and I think it is if you you don’t mind a challenging game. It definitely takes some skill to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, so don’t buy it thinking all is going to be easy.
ORIGINAL POST (The Oni Xpress): http://otakudgamereviews.blogspot.com/2012/07/tony-hawks-pro-skater-hd-xbla-its-like.html